The past few months have been busy here at Legal Aid Watch – we’ve live-blogged the lawyers’ protests, analysed data in order to give you exclusive reports, and spoken to a range of charities concerned about access to justice. But there’s still one side to this debate that needs to be heard.
How might victims of crime feel about cuts to legal aid? What about the families whose relatives have been murdered – do they think the cuts to legal aid are fair?
You might remember Baronness Doreen Lawrence – the mother of murdered teenager, Stephen Lawrence – being at the lawyers’ walk-out. The family’s lawyer Imran Khan said in a Guardian article that he would have been reluctant to take on the family’s case if today’s legal aid cuts applied.
But for Jean Taylor, founder of Families Fighting for Justice, it’s a different story.
We started off by asking her what it’s like to suddenly find yourself in the courts, trying to understand lawyers and the legal system while the suspect sits in the dock.
“It’s like being hit by a bulldozer,” she says.
Listen to our audio interview with FFFJ here:
Lawyers have been creaming extortionate amounts of money from appeal cases for far too long – Jean Taylor, Founder, Families Fighting for Justice
Jean lost a sister in 1998, a son in 2000 and a daughter in 2004 all to the acts of homicide.
In an audio interview with Legal Aid Watch, Jean says that the legal aid system “has been abused for far too long”. Speaking out against prisoners who plead guilty, but then go on to appeal the length of their sentence using legal aid, she said that she had “no sympathy” for lawyers and their claims that legal aid cuts would hit their salaries.
Lawyers, she says, have been “creaming extortionate amounts of money” from appeal cases for far too long.
Victims and their families are secondary within the system, Jean says. If a victim’s family needs access to the court transcripts, they must come up with over £1000 themselves. A prisoner meanwhile, has all the information he needs thanks to legal aid. “It’s wrong,” she says.
Moreover, savings made by cuts to legal aid for the perpetrators could be put back into helping the victims of crimes, she said.